PATH PLANS: The area where the paths would be created
PATH PLANS: The area where the paths would be created

COUNTY officers are planning to create five public rights of way along the old railway line to Barnard Castle.

The new bridleways, which for the most part will be three metres wide and stretch more than two kilometres (1.27 miles), will take people from Glaxo Sports and Social Club, in Barnard Castle, past The Hub and across a number of fields to Dent Gate Lane.

The footpath and bridleways cross the boundaries of Barnard Castle Town Council and Marwood and Stainton parish councils.

The decision to make the order was made at a meeting of Durham County Council’s highways committee. Should no objections be made, they will be adopted onto the county’s definitive plan.

Adrian White, head of transport and contract services at Durham County Council, said: “This creation order is part of Teesdale Area Action Partnership’s project to open up as much of the former Barnard Castle to Bishop Auckland railway line as possible as a public right of

way.

“The aim is to increase opportunities for walkers, cyclists and horse riders to access the beautiful countryside on the edge of Barnard Castle by providing a safe and level route.

“A new gate and bridge have already been installed on the proposed bridleway route, along with steps on the new link footpath in early 2017.

Blenkiron

“If this creation order is successful, work will be undertaken to level the ground at the Barnard Castle end of the railway. Like the previous work, this would be funded by Teesdale Action Partnership.”

County councillor Richard Bell said: “It is basically about making it a legal right of way and safer to use. The idea for this goes back several years after we did a walk about there. The route has been used unofficially and was pitted with rabbit holes.

“The idea is to open up the path and to make it more convenient and safer to use for walkers and cyclists.

“I think in the longer term some of us would like to progress this route further and look to try linking up sections of the railway line right to Bishop Auckland.

“But that’s an aspiration and not a current Teesdale Action Partnership priority.

“In the short term it will be great for locals, but in the longer term joining it up to other walks along the line would be good, but there would have to be funding for this.”

Copies of the creation order and maps are available to view online at durham.gov.uk. A paper copy is also available at Barnard Castle library.